The Joy Resounding

Alpine Valley Official Print

“That was a perfect set.” So I said to my buddy upon the finish of “Character Zero” last night. Phish had just thrown down a second half that flowed impeccably from start to finish, with every jam played to conclusion and leading naturally into the next. The non-stop stanza contained thrilling improvisation throughout as the band wove together one highlight after another. Forming a whole far greater than the sum of its standout parts, the second set carried us on true musical journey. Packing a punch—with both sets—Phish greeted Alpine Valley to one of the finest start-to-finish performances of the Summer 2012.

When Phish jumped from a standard “Number Line” opener into “Carini,” the first thematic sequence of the second set began. Beginning here, and for the entire first half of the frame, the band focused squarely on dance grooves—and it was glorious. Instead of launching into abstract or a major-key territory in “Carini,” the guys remained anchored to hard-edged groove morphing into a snarling, yet smooth texture that one might expect to hear from a “Tweezer.” Seeing this seething segment to fruition, the band had dissolved into the ether when Trey came in with the opening to “Wilson,” pairing the two dark tales. And it was but an instant upon “Wilson’s” ending that the band kicked it into overdrive for “Golden Age.”

6.30.2012 (Kevin Harris)

For the second time this tour, the guys centered “Golden Age” in the second set, a song that has taken on even more meaning in the midst of this summer’s modern-era musical renaissance. And this time comin’ round, Phish just destroyed the dance floor. Adopting his minimalist summer playing to the funk realm, Trey eased back and painted this beat-driven collage with rhythms licks that could make a grown man drool. Page stepped to his clav, and Mike stepped to the forefront of the jam with precise and eclectic bass lines. All the while Fish remained in lockstep with his bassist. It seemed that everyone took a more prominent leadership role in this jam than Trey, who slunk back like an alley cat, offering delectable comps that spiced up an already thickening groove. “Golden Age” got the pavilion pulsating as the band switched feels into an ultra-textured modern-era feel—an offshoot of the “plinko” sound. Page and Trey speckled the top layer of the groove as Mike and Fish remained in an intricate pocket. Blossoming like a time-lapse film, this jam just continued to get gnarlier by the second, and the guy’s rhythmic interplay got more nuanced and insane. Producing, by far, the most post-show buzz, this jam got real on a Saturday night.

6.30.2012 (Jenni Brennison)

Hitting a change the sounded like the onset of “2001” the band made a quick and ultra-fluid transition into their dance anthem. Exploding Alpine Valley with this laser-like maneuver, the band continued their theatrics by lacing the compact version with the rhythmic complexities of “Golden Age.” And at the climax of this to-die-for, groovalicious centerpiece, Phish blasted right into “Rock and Roll”—a move that kept the show’s energy dial—and level of musical engagement—cranked at 11. If the opening half of the set was dance-centric, the more exploratory second half kicked off with “Rock and Roll.” Transforming from a torrid rock jam to an ethereal masterpiece within a time frame one might think required the flux capacitor, the band dropped another profound jam. If one thing has truly stood out in the many jams of 2012 is the copious ground the band covers in a short period of time with stunning fluidity. Dare I say, there are not many bands out there that can play with such a dense musical spectrum. “Rock and Roll” first moved into percussive textures before Trey swooped in with a gripping guitar lead that directed the rest of the jam. Meeting their guitarist on the astral plane, the band quickly transformed the piece into a cathartic and melody-driven, four-piece collaboration. Tearing off descending licks, Trey continued to bring the band further and further into fantasy land, and, eventually, into an ambient denouement.

6.30.2012 (K.Harris)

And the relentless set just kept hitting as Trey subtly seeped into the long-awaited 2012 debut of “Steam.” Taking the concept of a “landing pad” to a whole new level, the band blanketed the over-sized amphitheatre with the song’s liquid groove. Laying down an infectious and bluesy solo, Trey led the guys through a brief extension of the theme, and bringing the slow groove to a head with a wash of sound and effect, one could feel “Piper” arise from within the music, signifying another choice song selection in a gift-wrapped set that kept on giving. Phish’s ever-protean, improvisational rocket ship took a high-octane journey on this night, forging some fast-paced psychedelia. Trey hit a powerful lead phrase early in the jam that became the theme of the piece, woven throughout the powerful excursion. Chugging as one, the band hit a stride in this jam in which the music seemed to roll effortlessly through them. Even when the band switched feels into a spacier milieu, the coalesced nicely as they peeled back the sonic layers, exposing a vulnerable, melodic core. As the jam trickled into nothing, Trey threw out a musical lasso to reign in the crowd in the form of “Quinn the Eskimo.” As the band concluded the rousing cover, they rolled into the increasingly rare “Harry Hood.”

Putting an effervescent stamp on the night, the band sculpted a standout version that some lost coherence at the very top, though it hardly tarnished the splendid ride to glory. Bursting out of the feel-good climax of the song, the guys dropped into “Character Zero.” Avoiding all distortion and effects, Trey just wailed out-school on this version, even adding a series of classic, late-90’s “Jean-Pierre” (Miles Davis) licks into his solo. And as the final note came crashing down, I was awed by the set’s seamless quality, not to mention top-notch jamming. There was never a single awkward moment in Saturday night’s main event, as the guys unveiled one of summer’s most outstanding efforts. Without space for breath, this airtight set will always underline Alpine’s Saturday night performance, but this whole shindig got started far earlier in the evening.

6.30.2012 (Kevin Harris)

Coming on stage into a humid Wisconsin evening, Phish crafted quite an engaging first set. Dropping an early rarity in “Daniel Saw the Stone,” the show got going in earnest with the third-song “AC/DC Bag.” The guys peppered this version with extra mustard, as they did with the subsequent versions of “Moma Dance” and “Runaway Jim.” But the most sublime couplet of the opening half followed with “Let It Loose” and “Reba.” Dripping the emotional Stones ballad into the mid-summer’s, the band immediately pulled in the attention of the Alpine’s monstrous audience, and then kept it locked right there with a lush and extended “Reba.”

6.30.2012 (K.Harris)

The meaty opening set continued with “Sloth,” and another spin-worthy “Ocelot.” Two more summer debuts—“Poor Heart” and “Circus”—provided a buffer before the true, late-set gem, “Timber.” Moving into some out-of-character, melody-driven harmonies for a part of this rendition, “Timber” immediately became a set break talking point upon its conclusion. A vigorous “Suzy Greenberg” drew a thunderous ovation from the crowd as the exclamation point of the opening half. And as we sat during setbreak and gazed into the purple sky of southern Wisconsin with a bright white waxing moon hung low in the sky, things couldn’t have been any better.

The first night of Alpine immediately jumps to the forefront of contenders for show of the summer. Not that a winner should be chosen, but last night was just that good. It is truly a blessing to bear witness to what is going down nightly on Phish tour these days. Playing with clear inspiration, the guys are—indisputably—throwing down their most creative run since their return. And the first night of Alpine stands tall in the forest of amazing summer shows. After all, it’s not every night the band plays a perfect set.

I: My Soul, Daniel Saw the Stone, AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, Runaway Jim, Let It Loose, Reba, Kill Devil Falls, The Sloth, Ocelot, Poor Heart, When the Circus Comes, Timber (Jerry) > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony >Suzy Greenberg

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Carini > Wilson > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Rock and Roll > Steam -> Piper > Quinn the Eskimo, Harry Hood > Character Zero

E: Good Times Bad Times

6.30.2012 (Kevin Harris)

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345 Responses to “The Joy Resounding”

  1. tela'smuff Says:

    I’m not letting it set me up for disappointment, but I feel like I’m gettin my Split tonight. First set ender or an opening set 2 throwdown.

    I tonight is gonna be very special, but will be happy either way. After Cinci I said my run was paid for via jams. Everything else has been icing.

    Not one single letdown. Last night I did have some awful AV talkers around me with camera phone aand facebook checking, but even wit that the jams carried through.

  2. robear Says:

    The little section near the end where trey keeps playing the descending scales is slick.

    So far, it sounds like it would have been a nonstop free form dance session. Def a 4.0 phunk vibe going. Carini, GA and def RnR could use the Canadien treatment on listen back.

    On steam.

  3. BingosBrother Says:

    Alpine on sunday is the only church service you’ll ever catch me at. all the bros at home. cops tuckered out. intent listening. can’t wait.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Go get some BingosBro!

    Tela’s- nice job hitting this 7 pack. Hope you get that elusive Split.

  5. Oh Kee Says:

    Can’t believe Miner thought Night 2 Set 2 of Deer Creek was ok and last nights was the best since yhey have been back. I think the exact opposite. Guess it depends on a lot of diffferent things though. If there is a light tonight Miner will think its the best show ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yikes

  6. Phunky58 Says:

    for those of you who are down on last nights show u need to wake up. the first set i wasnt fond of wayyy too many songs being played there lately. need the jams to return to the first set. that being said the 2nd set was one of the best sets of this tour so far. and after what happened deer creek night 2 second set with the ripchords being pulled on twist and gin last night reinforced to me that deer creek night 2 was just a fluke with the aborted songs. awesome 2nd set last night

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    yo, CHI town peeps. decided to sleep in my own bed last night so may be drivin solo. any drivers or riders?

  8. poop goblin Says:

    Last nights show fun as shit

    20 Italians singing and yelling watching soccer when im all irie eating lunch is hell

    Fuck Europeans

  9. sumodie Says:

    I’ll take that 20YL at JB1 -now I just need to get my ass down there. All depends on my family, who are cruising down the coast in their boat from ME to MA. Dunno yet if we’re going to meet them before or after SPAC

  10. William H. Bonney Says:

    Torna l’Italia porta a casa il trofeo

  11. sumodie Says:

    Negev, electrons sent

  12. RicksFork Says:

    Being delayed for 4 hours at Midway is not as fun as getting down in the pit last night. Considering leaving my bags here and heading back to AV. Last night really was “perfect” for me. You nailed it Miner. Raging first set, got the Sloth I have been hunting for a while. Second set was magic for me. Carini on through was a blast! Jealous of those going tonight. Have a blast.

  13. sumodie Says:

    Low quality Spacemen 3 torrent?

    When stealing music, beggars can’t be choosers

    Already have that megatorrent (& the Spiritualized one), but haven’t spun any Spacemen yet. Stupid Phish ter keeps interfering

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sweet Jane

  15. ae Says:

    is there a bb meet at the top of jones beach plan, or are folks scattered around the venue?

    so crazy to be able to follow the tour like this and hear every note of the shows you miss within 24 hours of the show dropping.

  16. sumodie Says:

    i want then to push the boundaries.

    Well, that’s something many of us here have been wanting (more of) for a while in 3.0

    The band may not be pushing boundaries as often as I’d like, but that doesn’t invalidate, for me, the hot playing that the boys are unleashing, esp so far this summer (along with a few boundary pushing gems like Cinci Twist, StarLake Light>Paug, Wooksta Sand>Nellie)

    Like I alluded to above, liquid flow like AV’s GA >> Quinn will always make me want to hit the next show

    Steam not good…? Dunno, I thought it was great on replay. I assume CK5 is still releasing dry ice during that tune?

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Dry ice in effect. Crowd pleaser. I don’t know what hes lookin for. sounded nailed to me.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    not sure ae. Think peeps are scattered. Probably meet up in lot or WW before show. Hit me up. I’ll be with jdub, neemor, purp, and doc p night one.

  19. viola Says:

    p.s. bonnaroo tweezer is best of summer. very fresh and breathable in a deep way

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ^^ agreed. But i think a monster is coming to either JB or Spac which will overtake the ‘Roo Tweezer. At least that is my hope, preferably Jones Beach.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    good morning. last night was so bomb. We are so blessed. Tweeze obviously isn’t the jump off this summer…

  22. Patterson Says:

    I thought they played like they missed the place. All positive. All the time.

  23. Oldskool Says:

    @miner, I am with you. They are killing it right now. I am totally floored by the negativity. We have our band back: bustouts, antics, unpredictability and epic jamming. What do people want? Go listen to ’09 or even the recent NYE run, this shit is so another level. ’97 & ’98 were 15 years ago and honestly if you are jonesing for those shows that bad you probably didn’t see them and feel you missed out. Live in the moment and live the Phish that is going out and killing it EVERY night right now

  24. ae Says:


    will be in touch tuesday mr p.


  25. Oldskool Says:

    And one more thing and then I will get off my soapbox…

    I love technology and especially the Internet but a crappy stream through an iPhone is no way to experience a Phish show. There are a lot of young kids on this board. Step away from the computer, get the fuck to a Phish show and experience it. You have the be in the building feel the energy, the crowd, the lights and the music; there is no replacement. When I was that age I was driving cross country with new experiences daily. Never knowing how or if I would make it into the show but building life experiences. Phish tour and the indelible lessons it provides do not come through a keyboard and screen. Get out there and experience it. I promise you will be a better and wiser person for it.

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